An examination of Britain’s modern day defence capability
BRITAIN is at a crossroads. As we leave the EU, we face a great challenge and opportunity, to forge a new identity in an increasingly uncertain world. Our Armed Forces will be critical to our power and prosperity.
For centuries, they have been the envy of the world. Now barely a day passes without reports of diminishing prowess. The number of Navy workhorse ships has been halved and the Army reduced to its smallest size since the Napoleonic war. Our spectacular new aircraft carriers and the F35 fighter jet programme are mired in controversy. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces face questions about their purpose. The bitter experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan have undermined the concept of the military as a “force for good.” Voters are now sceptical of discretionary wars in faraway places, and many think drones and robots will soon be able to do the work of servicemen and women. Aside from sporadic jihadi attacks, few believe there is any real threat to our way of life.
Thus defence spending is no longer a public priority. Politicians know that there are more votes in schools and hospitals, even while they are forced to deploy the Army onto the streets after suicide bombings. In what feels like peacetime, no wonder top brass have to justify big budgets.
Yet this country faces an array of new and escalating threats, while Brexit and Trump raise new questions over the future of our most important alliances.
Have we become dangerously complacent?
In a major new project, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC and Isabel Oakeshott will investigate the state of the British Armed Forces today. Why do we still need them, and do they have what they need to do what is required of them? Have we run up a white flag, or are we still masters of our destiny?